Lost Lake sits just below the Continental Divide not far from the top of Cottonwood Pass. We passed the trailhead coming up from Buena Vista, turned around, and found the unmarked trail. No signs, just a small paved area with a gate and the beginning of a dirt road.
LATE FALL HIKE
Snow-covered areas on the trail but a sunny warm day. We were itching to find this lake. The views surrounding us were mesmerizing.
Hiking along a dirt road (used only for snowmobiles) was an easy start for quite a ways. Still no markings and no signs of other hikers it was getting hard to distinguish if we were on the right trail leading to Lost Lake.
Snow cover was making it difficult, hard to know when to head off the road and venture up the mountain. Coming to a snowmobile trail heading downhill and noticing a hiking trail heading uphill on the right, we started up.
It gets steep going through dense forest on a steady but short incline until we walk out of the tress and stand in sweeping views as we enter a meadow.
TROUBLE FINDING LOST LAKE
Hiking down a short way, after going through a marshy area, we lost our trail. Heading upward, to the left, no lake.
Keeping our eyes on the trail back down so we did not get lost, we began wandering everywhere having been taken in by the immense alpine beauty and still looking for Lost Lake.
FOUND LOST LAKE!
We did find Lost Lake after hiking all the way back down to the trailhead and running into a charming older couple who knew every inch of this area. Excited to give us directions, they mentioned – “After hiking through the marshy area, find the cabin remnants and hike uphill to the right.”
Determined to find Lost Lake, we hiked back up, found the cabin remnants, headed up to the right into steep terrain through a forest, onto a meadow, and finally, there it is…
Lost Lake is unexpected, the setting rugged and serene. Slightly frozen, it was breathtaking.
An island in the middle, what a surprise. After soaking in the views, exploring around the lake, and noticing the sun was getting lower in the sky, we headed back.
Our day hiking adventure turned into an exhilarating 6 miles. Not only for us but for a few other hikers that had lost the trail. Recent small snowstorms, and minimal hikers this late in the season, made the hike more challenging.
Not to mislead you, in the summer months this area gets many hikers, the trail is easily followed, and a hike up is a little over a mile to Lost Lake. Known for families with young children & visitors wanting to experience Colorado.
POPULAR BEGINNER-FRIENDLY HIKE
From the stoplight in downtown Buena Vista, CO (Hwy 24 & Main St), go west on Main St (Chaffee CR 306) for 18.1 miles. You will find the “easy to miss” unmarked trailhead on the left. (look for a small paved area with a gate).
2.6 miles out and back
Elevation: start 11,195 ft. gain, 680 ft.
Avalanche prone area
Nearest Town: Buena Vista, CO
Connect with me on Instagram! I enjoy hanging out there and leaving tidbits of trails I’ve hiked in Colorado. Follow me and say hi – send me a message! Follow other hikers and be inspired!
Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).